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2021 Insurance Timeline: Navigating Risks in the New Normal

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In 2021, the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines marked a turning point in the pandemic for many North American organizations and individuals. As industries from construction to hospitality resumed operations, the economic rebound also brought its own challenges as businesses navigated a new normal defined by continued COVID-19 surges, supply chain concerns and worker shortages— on top of existing risks like severe weather. Highlighted below are some of the top headlines of 2021 and related insurance policies.

  • Tom Brady Rookie Card Fetches a Record $555,988 at Auction

    An autographed Tom Brady rookie card is purchased at auction on eBay for $555,988, one day after the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback helped his team secure a spot in Super Bowl LV.


    “These are items that are priceless, really, and they require a higher level of coverage than what a Homeowners Insurance policy can provide.” –Danielle Alessandrini, Associate Vice President, Underwriting Director, Personal Insurance, Burns & Wilcox, Detroit/Farmington Hills, Michigan.


    Featured solutions: Homeowners Insurance; Personal Articles Floater

  • COVID-19 Cases Exceed 100 Million Worldwide

    A global tally shows more than 100 million cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed.


    Source: CNN

  • Consulting Firm Agrees to $1.75 Million Settlement in Water Treatment Plant Suit

    A consulting firm will pay $1.75 million to settle claims of breach of contract and professional negligence related to the design and construction of a large, lined pond that was part of a $13 million water treatment plant. The settlement was finalized on January 27.


    “The fact is, if something goes wrong on a project, everyone with any involvement whatsoever is likely to be named in a lawsuit.” – Paula Lansky, Manager, Professional Liability, Burns & Wilcox, Toronto, Ontario


    Featured solutions: Errors and Omissions; Professional Liability Insurance

  • Bitter Cold, Heavy Snow Slam Homeowners, Businesses

    Collapsed roofs, caved-in foundations and broken windows are evidence of the destruction caused by bitterly cold temperatures and powerful winter storms that have hammered the U.S. and parts of Canada in recent weeks.


    “When heavy snow accumulates, there is a risk of roofs buckling or even caving in—especially on older homes.” –Daniel Verdun, Senior Underwriter, Personal Insurance, Burns & Wilcox, Parsippany, New Jersey


    Featured solutions: Commercial Property; Residential Property; Flood Insurance

  • Storm Damage Costs Could Be Highest in Texas, U.S. History

    The winter storm that knocked out power for millions amid frigid temperatures and spawned a rash of water-related disasters is expected to be the costliest weather event in the history of the state.


    “While severe weather and power outages are beyond their ability to control, homeowners can take advantage of monitoring technology to help reduce the impact of such events.” –Bill Gatewood, Corporate Senior Vice President, National Personal Insurance Practice Leader, Burns & Wilcox, Detroit/Farmington Hills, Michigan


    Featured solutions: Homeowners Insurance

  • Popular ‘Vaccine Selfies’ Pose Cybercrime Risks

    Data security experts sound the alarm to warn those engaging in the latest social media trend of sharing celebratory COVID-19 “vaccine selfies” depicting themselves holding their Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vaccination record card. Including these records in such photos, experts caution, could expose the kind of information — such as full name and date of birth — criminals use to commit identity theft and even home robbery.


    “The relief and enthusiasm that inspire vaccine selfies are certainly understandable; however, exercising restraint is imperative. Sharing even the most basic personal details publicly could lead to devastating consequences if that information falls into the wrong hands.” –Danion Beckford, Underwriter, Professional Liability, Burns & Wilcox, Toronto, Ontario


    Featured solutions: Cyber and Privacy Liability Insurance; Homeowners Insurance

  • Prolonged Pandemic Strains Health Care Providers, Heightens Error Risks

    More than a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, the relentless pressure on health care workers continues to exact a toll.


    “Unfortunately, there is a great possibility of litigation surrounding pandemic-related overcrowding and access to care. Almost 2 years into the COVID pandemic, we still witness widespread instances involving very ill individuals having to wait hours and hours to receive the level of care they required or hospitals not able to provide elective procedures; when there are those types of delays, the potential for harm to patients escalates.” –Karl Olson, Vice President, Professional and Management Liability Practice Leader, Burns & Wilcox Brokerage, San Francisco, California


    Featured solutions: Healthcare; Cyber and Privacy Liability Insurance


  • Cargo Ship Blocks Suez Canal for Nearly a Week, Spotlighting Trade Vulnerabilities

    The MV Ever Given, a massive cargo ship, gains notoriety for running aground amid high winds on March 23 and completely blocking the Suez Canal.


    “The ripple effect on trade of all the other ships barred from passing through the canal during that period may have been substantial.” –Patrick Barco, Manager, Ocean Marine, Burns & Wilcox, Toronto, Ontario


    Featured solution: Marine

  • President Biden’s Dog ‘Major’ Involved in Second Biting Incident

    One of the White House’s two canine residents is involved in a biting incident on March 29: the Bidens’ German Shepherd, Major, reportedly nipped a National Park Service employee.


    “Homeowners should take time to review all policy wording and go through their coverage with their insurance brokers. Exposure to dog-bite lawsuits can be mitigated by taking proper precautions.” –Wendy McCormack, Senior Underwriter, Personal Insurance, Burns & Wilcox, Toronto, ON


    Featured solutions: Homeowners Insurance; Personal Umbrella Insurance

  • Piney Point Wastewater Cleanup Near Tampa Bay Could Cost $200 Million

    Wastewater disposal, site cleanup and complete closure of a former phosphate mining facility in Manatee County, Florida could cost up to $200 million, Florida state officials say.


    “Companies with highly sensitive operations or a broad spectrum of operations will often require higher limits, and that is where Excess Environmental Impairment Liability Insurance comes in.” –Karim Jaroudi, Manager, Environmental, Burns & Wilcox, Toronto, ON


    Featured solutions: Environmental Insurance

  • Trucking Industry Imperiled by Spike in ‘Nuclear Verdicts’

    Jury awards that exceed $10 million, also known as “nuclear verdicts,” are on the rise in the trucking industry and could make it more difficult for transportation companies to stay in business.


    “While larger trucking companies may be able to absorb the rising cost of insurance, smaller operations may struggle and ultimately pass these costs onto their customers. It is really the smaller and mid-sized operations feeling the brunt of this. They have less financial flexibility.” –John McGlynn, Director, Transportation, Burns & Wilcox, Toronto, ON


    Featured solution: Transportation 

  • SpaceX Rocketship Launches Four Astronauts to International Space Station

    It is the third crewed flight for SpaceX and the first to use a recycled rocket booster and spacecraft.


    Source: CNN

  • Billion-Dollar Hail Loss Underscores Risk of ‘Unpredictable’ Severe Weather

    Parts of Texas and Oklahoma are still assessing the toll of destruction after hail reportedly as large as softballs left swaths of damage to homes, cars and other property on April 28.


    “We are starting to see weather becoming less predictable than it had been in the past. The normal wildfire season, for example, is starting earlier and ending later. Last year with hurricanes, we saw them starting earlier and lasting later, and coming in numbers that we had not seen before.” –Bill Gatewood, Corporate Senior Vice President, National Personal Insurance Practice Leader, Burns & Wilcox, Detroit/Farmington Hills, Michigan


    Featured solutions: Homeowners Insurance; Flood Insurance

  • Colonial Pipeline Ransomware Attack Exposes Severity of Cyber Threats

    The ransomware attack that shut down one of the largest fuel pipelines in the U.S. and set off gas shortages and panic-buying is indicative of growing cyber risks.


    “This shows on a larger scale that a cyberattack can happen and it will not just affect the company at hand; it can have a far-reaching impact. The ramifications are profound.” –Danion Beckford, Underwriter, Professional Liability, Burns & Wilcox, Toronto, Ontario


    Featured solutions: Cyber and Privacy Liability Insurance; Energy 

  • Workers Injured as Metal Beams Fall ‘Like Dominoes’ at Construction Site

    Two workers narrowly avoid serious injuries after being thrown from horizontal metal beams at a construction site on the Boston University campus on May 14.


    “If there is a loss and no insurance coverage, it could greatly affect a homeowner or a property owner, because their investment is gone at that point. Financially, not a lot of individuals can take that hit.” –Steven Hrab, Director, Construction, Burns & Wilcox, Toronto, ON


    Featured solutions: Commercial General Liability Insurance; Construction; Architects and Engineers

  • Fire at Historic Mackinac Island Home Causes $1 Million in Damages

    A historic home on Michigan’s famed Mackinac Island catches fire on May 30, leaving more than $1 million in damages to the 120-year-old cottage.


    “Any home that is older, historic, or has unique finishes really needs the correct insurance policy in place so that if something like this does happen, they are properly covered.” –Sarah Chandonnet, Manager, Personal Insurance, Burns & Wilcox, Farmington Hills/Detroit, Michigan


    Featured solutions: Homeowners Insurance; Builder’s Risk Insurance

  • Restaurant Labor Shortages Strain Recovery Efforts, Escalate Risks

    Despite moderately increased sales and rising consumer confidence in the safety of dining out, restaurants in the U.S. and Canada still face a major hurdle with staffing.


    “Anytime you put inexperienced workers in any role, there is always a greater risk for injury to the employee or for service to suffer. You can transfer some of that risk by buying insurance. At the end of the day, you are trying to protect the financial interest of your company.” –Bonnie Steen, Vice President, Managing Director, Burns & Wilcox, New Orleans, Louisiana


    Featured solutions: Hospitality; Commercial Property Insurance; Commercial General Liability Insurance 

  • Six Flags Ride Accident Demonstrates Liability Risk of Summer Fairs and Events

    Two amusement park visitors are taken to the hospital on June 13 after a ride malfunction at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson Township, New Jersey.


    “Sometimes it only takes one small incident, like a slip-and-fall, to bankrupt a brand new business. … The whole point of insurance is to be one of your support pillars; your backup in case something does happen. No matter how small the risk is, you definitely need the insurance.” –Jakub Zarebski, Senior Underwriter, Commercial Insurance, Burns & Wilcox, Toronto, Ontario


    Featured solutions: Commercial General Liability Insurance; Special Events Insurance; Liquor Liability

  • Dozens of Lawsuits Filed After Condo Collapse in Florida

    The sudden collapse of the Champlain Towers South condo building in Surfside, Florida on June 24 tragically causes at least 95 deaths and leaves 14 residents still missing.


    “This may be one of the worst building collapses that the U.S. has seen. It has really highlighted the need to have the proper insurance in place. When something goes wrong with the maintenance or the upkeep of a building with a homeowners association, there will be liability questions directed at that board.” –Marvin Cigarroa, Broker, Professional Liability, Burns & Wilcox, San Diego, California


    Featured solutions: Directors and Officers Insurance; Architects and Engineers Insurance

  • Customer Sues McDonald’s Over Voice Recognition Technology

    A new lawsuit against McDonald’s accuses the company of violating an Illinois privacy act by using voice recognition technology on customers without their consent.


    “The pandemic has accelerated digitization and the use of technology; companies had to evolve in order to survive. With the increasing privacy litigation, it makes for a lot of change and compliance that organizations need to get their arms around.” –David Derigiotis, Corporate Senior Vice President, National Professional Liability Practice Leader, Burns & Wilcox, Detroit/Farmington Hills, Michigan


    Featured solution: Cyber and Privacy Liability Insurance

  • Western Canada Lightning Strikes Stoke Forest Fires

    Lightning strikes in the region are up almost tenfold compared to 2020 over the past two days amid a record-setting heatwave.


    Source: Reuters

  • Neutrogena, Aveeno Sunscreens Recalled After Carcinogen Found in Samples

    A variety of Neutrogena and Aveeno sunscreen sprays are recalled by Johnson & Johnson after trace amounts of benzene, a known carcinogen, were found in product samples.


    “From the first step of identifying the issue to conducting the recall, and finally business continuity planning, those can all be very expensive costs to a business. A Product Recall Insurance policy is able to include all of that.” –Derek Kilmer, Manager, Professional Liability, Burns & Wilcox, Detroit/Farmington Hills, Michigan


    Featured solutions: Product Recall Insurance; Products Liability Insurance

  • ‘Airbnb for Backyard Pools’ Trend Raises Liability Flags for Homeowners

    An increasing number of homeowners are renting out their backyard pools to earn extra cash, the Wall Street Journal reports.


    “Business activities in general are typically excluded from a Homeowners Insurance policy form. It could be very risky to get involved with this, and I would caution homeowners to check with their insurance agent first to see whether they would have any coverage.” –Michelle Allemang, Manager, Personal Insurance, Burns & Wilcox, Chicago, Illinois


    Featured solution: Homeowners Insurance

  • U.S. Cannabis Sales Could Exceed $30 Billion By 2022

    Legal cannabis sales in the U.S. could exceed $30 billion by 2022, marijuana analytics company Headset project in an updated long-term forecast.


    “You would think the pandemic would slow things down, but it actually was the time when we saw things really speed up.” –Leena Malik, Senior Underwriter, Commercial Insurance, Burns & Wilcox, Toronto, ON


    Featured solution: Cannabis

  • 108 Wildfires Rage Across U.S. as Fires Leave More Homeowners Vulnerable

    At least 108 active wildfires burn in the U.S. as of Aug. 10, involving over 2.4 million acres of land in 15 states.


    “Wildfire risk continues to increase each year, year over year. Conditions are getting dryer—and dry vegetation continues to persist. As we can now see, it is not just California; a lot of the Western states are experiencing more wildfires, as well.” –Pamela Alphabet, Regional Practice Group Leader, Personal Insurance, Burns & Wilcox, Scottsdale, Arizona


    Featured solution: Homeowners Insurance

  • Sustained Labor Shortages Increase Liability Risks to Businesses

    As labor shortages continue across the U.S., multiple industries feel the impact.


    “Companies are doing more with fewer workers — not because they want to, but because they have to. Even if they make the transition to become more automated, the learning curve to implement such resources are still prone to errors which can translate to additional causes of disruptions, loss of income and clients, if it is not carefully monitored.” –Rahmad Bauldrick, Associate Vice President, Regional Practice Leader, Professional Liability, Burns & Wilcox, Chicago, Illinois


    Featured solutions: Directors and Officers Insurance; Errors and Omissions Insurance

  • Catastrophic Flooding Claims Lives, Washes Away Homes in Middle Tennessee

    At least 22 individuals are killed and many more remain missing after a flash flood ravages the rural town of Waverly, Tennessee on Aug. 21.


    “This was a catastrophic flood. It is devastating from a loss of life standpoint, and loss of property as well.” –Brad Turner, Associate Vice President, National Product Manager, Flood, Burns & Wilcox, Morehead City, North Carolina


    Featured solution: Flood Insurance

  • Cyber Attacks on the Rise, Companies Urged to Protect Digital Infrastructure

    The U.S. government is working with the private sector to bolster the country’s cybersecurity, the White House announces.


    “More companies are aware that they need a Cyber & Privacy Liability Insurance policy, but they may not have it yet, and they may not be aware of the risk management tools our markets are looking for nowadays.” –Allison Arnold, Broker, Professional Liability, Burns & Wilcox, Indianapolis, Indiana


    Featured solution: Cyber and Privacy Liability Insurance

  • Hurricane Ida Linked to Over 2,000 Water Pollution Reports

    An 11-mile-long oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico is one of more than 2,000 reports of water pollution being investigated by authorities in Louisiana after Hurricane Ida tore through the region.


    “When an operation is hit by a weather phenomenon and their controls fail, or their labor force is not there to ensure the controls do not fail, that is a serious concern.” – Karim Jaroudi, Manager, Environmental, Burns & Wilcox, Toronto, ON


    Featured solution: Environmental Insurance

  • Canada Re-Elects Liberal Minority Government

    Justin Trudeau wins enough seats in Canada’s 2021 federal election to form another minority government, CBC reports.


    Source: CBC

  • Booming Real Estate Market Could Mean Increased Error Risk for Agents

    A real estate agent and realty company are sued for their handling of a $4.6 million home sale in Sarasota, Florida.


    “With E&O policies, the trigger is a third party claiming financial loss. If a third party lost money or was forced to pay additional funds stemming from an error or omission on the part of a real estate professional, those would be considered E&O claims.” –Melissa Martin, Broker, Professional Liability, Burns & Wilcox, Milwaukee, Wisconsin


    Featured solution: Real Estate Agents Errors and Omissions Insurance

  • Children Given COVID Vaccine Instead of Flu Shot at Walgreens Pharmacy

    A family of four is reportedly vaccinated against COVID-19 by mistake on Oct. 4 when they tried to get their flu shots.


    “To administer a vaccine to a child that has not been approved to receive it could potentially be serious. We really do not know at this time how the COVID-19 vaccine could affect these small children in the future, let alone right now.” –Greg Wideman, Manager, Healthcare, Burns & Wilcox, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania


    Featured solution: Medical Professional Liability Insurance; General Liability Insurance; Products Liability Insurance

  • Pedal Pubs Prompt Concerns After Falls and Injuries

    A recent video that shows a man stumbling off a Tennessee pedal pub and falling into a moving car is adding to growing concerns over the safety of open-air bike bars.


    “Some of these vehicles have seat-backs, some have seatbelts, and others have just a plain bicycle seat. After someone has had a few drinks, their balance may not be the best. The situation almost lends itself to injuries if the unit does not have certain safeguards in place.” –Christian Stefanut, Broker, Commercial Insurance, Burns & Wilcox, San Francisco, California


    Featured solution: Commercial General Liability Insurance

  • ‘Rust’ Movie Set Shooting Likely to Prompt Major Lawsuits

    The accidental shooting resulting in the tragic death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the film Rust could lead to a tremendous legal fallout. Reports indicate that Hutchins died after producer and actor Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun that contained a live round.


    “At the end of the day, somebody is accountable for what happened. It is a tragic event. Someone did not do their job properly.” –Matt Lawford, Broker, Advertising and Film Production, Chesterfield Group, a subsidiary of H.W. Kaufman Group


    Featured solutions: Feature Film Production Insurance; Commercial General Liability Insurance; Errors and Omissions Insurance

  • Onion Recall Expands After 800 Sickened With Salmonella

    A recent recall of fresh onions is now linked to at least 808 salmonella infections and includes onions from multiple sources, including HelloFresh and EveryPlate meal kits.


    “Any organization engaged in manufacturing or moving goods and services through our market economy needs to really be thoughtful about both Products Liability Insurance and Product Recall Insurance.” –Linda Koos, Managing Director, Burns & Wilcox, Detroit/Farmington Hills, Michigan


    Featured solutions: Products Liability Insurance; Product Recall Insurance

  • Laptop Charging on Bed Ignites Apartment Fire in Northwest Austin

    A bedroom fire at an apartment complex in northwest Austin, Texas, on Nov. 4 is reportedly caused by a laptop left charging on a bed. The blaze displaces one resident but no one is injured. Officials say property damage is estimated at $8,000.


    “With an apartment fire, you are looking at not just damage to the tenants’ property but also the integrity and the structure of the building itself. If you are underinsured and face a million-dollar loss, for example, it can be career-ending if you have to pay for the loss out of your own pocket.” –Dylan Kamen, Broker, Commercial Insurance, Burns & Wilcox, Denver, Colorado


    Featured solutions:  Commercial Property Insurance; Commercial General Liability Insurance; Pollution Legal Liability Insurance

  • U.S.-Canada Border Reopens for Non-Essential Travel

    Families celebrate after 19 months of pandemic-related travel bans.


    Source: BBC

  • Canada Approves Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine for Kids 5-11

    Canadian health officials make the vaccine available for more than 2.8 million children.


    Source: New York Times

  • First North American Cases of Omicron Variant Found in Canada

    Two cases are identified in individuals who had recently traveled to Nigeria.


    Source: Reuters

  • Toy Stores Under Pressure as Supply Chain Concerns Dominate Holiday Shopping Season

    Supply chain shortages linked to seaport backlogs, a lack of truck drivers and other constraints could mean toy stores are unable to keep up with holiday shopping demands this year.


    “It is a tough time to be in business and there are a lot of difficult decisions to make. This might be an unprecedented event for any business owner.” –Ryan Ascenzo, Senior Broker, Professional Liability, Burns & Wilcox Brokerage, New York, New York


    Featured solutions: Directors and Officers Insurance; Errors and Omissions Insurance

  • Amazon Responds to Supply Chain Problems and Shipping Deadlines

    As the supply chain crisis overwhelms companies on a global scale, industry giants like Amazon turn to high-risk delivery methods like chartered ships and long-haul planes, opening them up to new forms of liability in the already volatile transportation industry.


    “Supply chain issues are just catapulting Amazon into setting up their own supply chain, and thus not being subject to other entities’ timelines to get their merchandise to the market.” –John Gambino, Cargo Manager, RB Jones, Marine, New York, New York


    Featured solutions: Transportation; Marine

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